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Update: SAT/ACT Scandal Broadens

More college-admissions-tests cheating-suspects face, according to news reports.

Current and former students at four additional North Shore schools face arrest in an SAT/ACT cheating scandal that first shook Great Neck North High School in September.

On Tuesday it was revealed that nine additional students paid between $500 to $3,600 to four test takers from 2008 through 2011 to take the SAT or ACT, resulting in higher scores for the students, according to Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

Authorities say test takers include Joshua Chefec, 20, a graduate of Great Neck North High School; Adam Justin, 19, a graduate of North Shore Hebrew Academy; Michael Pomerantz, 18, who attended Great Neck North High School; and George Trane, 19, a graduate of Great Neck South High School.

Three of the accused turned themselves in to the DA’s office Tuesday morning. They are charged with first-degree scheme to defraud, second-degree falsifying business records, and second-degree criminal impersonation. Each faces up to four years if convicted, and is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon.

Pomerantz is expected to surrender Monday because of a medical condition, and will face the same charges, according to authorities.

DA investigators arrested seven other students who paid test takers. Another student, also experiencing a medical condition, is expected to surrender Monday. Of these students, five graduated from Great Neck North High School, two from North Shore Hebrew Academy, and one from Roslyn High School.

Investigators plan to arrest another student, from St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset, who opted not to surrender.

Because of their ages and the nature of the charges they face, these students will be prosecuted as youthful offenders, and by law, their cases will remain sealed, according to the DAs office. The students are expected to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in First District Court in Hempstead.

In September, seven were arrested for participating in an . The arrested were current or former Great Neck North High School students who are accused of paying college student Sam Eshaghoff, 19, of Great Neck, between $1,500 and $2,500 each to impersonate them and take the SAT test to achieve higher scores.

“Educating our children means more than teaching them facts and figures. It means teaching them honesty, integrity, and a sense of fair play,” Rice said, in a statement. “The young men and women arrested today instead chose to scam the system and victimize their own friends and classmates, and for that they find themselves in handcuffs.” 

Port Washington School Superintendent Dr. Geoffrey Gordon had no comment at press time. However, in October he had told The New York Times that in the Port Washington School District, students must provide two forms of identification in order to take the SAT, while Educational Testing Service, which administers the test, requires only one form of identification. ETS needs "to partner with schools to make sure there is no cheating,” Gordon told The Times. 

Chefec's attorney, Brian Griffin, told Newsday that Great Neck North had already investigated the charge against him, and had considered it "unfounded." Justin's attorney, Arnold Kriss, pointed out that "the presumption of innocence applies in this case."

The investigation may broaden into the five boroughs, NBC New York reported.

Alan Gilbert November 22, 2011 at 04:28 PM
I have yet to see any comments about where the students obtained between $1500-$2500 dollars. If there was parental complicity then they as citizens and as being responsible for a minor must be held accountable as well. There are those who might take the position that this is just another example of individuals demonstrating creativity consistent with capitalist principles. I for one feel that the moral/ethical compass of our elected officials, industry, and the financial community have set the bar where such actions can be justified or rationalized. Are we raising the next generation of "what's in it for me", and that "doesn't applly to me"?
Nassau Taxpayer November 22, 2011 at 05:38 PM
Where did the money come from? Same source as fund batteries of "SAT Prep Courses" that teach not content, not knowledge, not critical thinking, but first and foremost how to game standardized tests - in other words, how to cheat. Both tests and the gaming thereof have outlived their usefulness. It's all about the money now, nothing but the money.
Dolores Kazanjian O'Brien November 22, 2011 at 06:04 PM
Yes, cheating is nothing new, but it is worse now than before. I was a college professor for over thirty years, and I can assure you that the level of cheating rose dramatically over those years. So has our acceptance of cheating, whether it's in school or on taxes or in business, as illustrated by your post. I also know that this level of cheating among students who are already high achievers is unusual. Those who cheated were typically the ones who were afraid of flunking or not getting an SAT or a GPA high enough to get into/stay in school.
Dolores Kazanjian O'Brien November 22, 2011 at 06:11 PM
There is no question in my mind that the parents had to be complicit. And, who created the environment that says it's okay to cheat or do anything to get ahead? Read the papers!
NYB November 23, 2011 at 04:59 AM
Maybe if your whole lot in life wasn't largely based on one gatekeeper test cheating wouldn't be a problem. Maybe if our DA wasn't gunning for NYS AG we wouldn't have to be bombarded with updates (and her gigantic forehead) every five minutes like she uncovered some terrorist plot. Yeah it's wrong, it happened in 2008, prosecute them and get over it.


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